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404 Strand, London, WC2R 0NH
Ended 29 Mar 2014 after 3 months
Nominated for Best New Comedy at the 2014 Olivier Awards
If ever there was a political scandal ripe for farce it was the 2009 MP's Expenses Scandal. As revelation after revelation of public money being frittered away on fine-dining, interior decorating and yes, building a duck house, was revealed, the already tarnished reputation of the country's politicians reached a new low. Writers Dan Patterson and Colin Swash were at the forefront of the media jibing of the scandal as writers on Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You, and decided to take it a step further by penning a play about it.
Starring Ben Miller in the lead role as fictional MP Robert Houston, The Duck House premiered at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford before transferring to The West End's Vaudeville Theatre in November 2013. It was generally positively received, The Telegraph's Charles Spencer noting that the "farcical plotting is as ingenious as the gags are lewd and crude" and received a nomination for Best New Comedy at the 2014 Olivier Awards. The Duck House closed on 29th March 2014.
Alongside his work on Mock the Week, Dan Patterson is an uber-producer, who has had a hand in many of British television's greatest hits of the past 25 years, including Room 101 and Whose Line is it Anyway? Leading man Ben Miller is probably best known for his sketch comedy partnership with Alexander Armstrong, their eponymous show winning the duo a Bafta in 2010. Starring alongside him as his suffering wife Felicity was Nancy Carroll who won an Olivier Award for 2010's After the Dance.
It's 2009, and MP Robert Houston is desperate to escape from the labouring Labour party, which has seen a disastrous decline in popularity under the stewardship of Gordon Brown. He is ready to defect to the Conservatives and has a meeting with Sir Norman Cavendish lined up to seal the deal. Unfortunately for Houston, this interview is scheduled for the day after the Expenses Scandal breaks on the airwaves. With his career in the balance, Houston must cover up his dodgy expense claims (including the famous duck house) before the morning. His staff, populated by his family members, are just as culpable and the next 24 hours is a dizzying comedy of errors as wires get crossed, trousers pulled down and secrets get unearthed in the scramble for political survival.
The 'Duck House' claim that the play is based around was originally made by Sir Peter John Viggers, MP for Gosport. The proposed "floating duck island" would have cost £1, 645.
Previews from: 27 November 2013
Opening night: 10 December 2013
Closing night: 29 March 2014
The Duck House is suitable for audiences aged 12 and upwards
Two hours and 20 minutes with one interval
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